Re: Catalina 27 or Pearson 28 or Ericson 32
As always, much depends on how well they have been maintained, and how well equipped they are. And only then which one you like the looks of best :-). Start off by looking at the boat as a collection of parts - how many sails do they have? Engine hours? Age of rigging? Electronics and electricals (e.g. a friend just bought an Islander 28, and had to rewire it). Check out the bilge and keel bolts - look out for any big-ticket problems. Larger boats like these are a lot more complex, with more parts...how much will each boat part you to replace/upgrade?
It's tough to rank a 28' against a 32'; those few feet make a huge difference in size - and often in slip fees and maintenance costs!
Both Pearson and Ericson are well-made boats, solid. Tough to choose between those two. Although smaller, the Pearson feels surprisingly roomy. Smaller and younger vs. bigger and older....tough. Condition and parts decides that.
Catalina's are still made, so parts are still available; as you know they have a huge following. You get a lot of boat for the money with a Catalina, but they IMHO they tend not to be as strongly built, and so if well maintained, fine; if neglected, may take more effort to "bring back". That, and the fact it is smallest, would put it third for me.