Re: Please tell me this is a nutty idea so I will stop looking at this boat.
Your worst case is the engine is shot. A new Beta Marine engine/trans combo will run you about $7K + shipping.
It's a fair bit of work but not rocket science to pull the old engine and swap in the new, especially if you know someone who's done it before and can help you through the process.
The question is would that $7K blow your budget and can you do the work?
In the boat's favor is the fact that she looks like she had an owner who kept her well. That's VERY important in a boat this age.
A lot of folks here will tell you to go for it (after all we all did), but at the end of the day you have to pay the bills and no matter how well maintained there will be additional expenses with any boat that need to be factored in.
Best of luck whether you decide this is the one or if it will be the boat you haven't found yet.
95 Catalina 30 Island Time
“The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." - Henry David Thoreau