I have owned several Sabres and a couple of Hunters, and a new Beneteau. All that means is I am a glutton for punishment.
Whether a boat, a car or an airplane - you are always better off buying the BEST condition boat, car or airplane you can afford. Some one has put in parts and hours prior to you getting involved, that will save you $$$, if done correctly. Buying a deteriorating asset (all are unless an Oyster, Ferrari, etc) based on cost alone will end up costing you $$, many times more than what you "saved" by buying a lesser priced boat to start.
Don't be afraid to ask for help anywhere along the way, or ask for a list member in your area to meet you at the boat for his help. Surveyor or a current owner of the boat you are looking at. I have often strolled the docks looking for the same boat, and have not hesitated to ask an owner for the ups and downs of his boat. All were more than willing to talk, show and help.
best of luck.
This is great advice. I've had 5 sailboats, 4 used, 1 new, and 2 power boats one new, one used. Yes, a real glutton for punishment and failing intelligence tests.
I recently refit a power boat and spent 2X the purchase price making it the way I wanted it. Having done this before, I knew what I was getting into when I started, was able to verify that it had good bones, and good systems maintenance. Cosmetics are expensive, but if you like Sabres you evidently like to look back towards the mooring and smile when you row ashore.
Being your first bigger boat, I'd recommend the following:
1. Simple systems. The cost of ownership goes up with everything that makes life nicer on board from fridges to fancy main furling. The more you can live without, the cheaper ownership will be.
2. It can be heavily used, that's fine, as long as it has a knowledgeable owner.
3. Don't buy anything that's been on hard for a few years or not used very much. Everything on it is broken, trust me. More use is your friend if the right owner.
4. Try to get to know the owner. If they seem diligent and honest, go forward, if not run away. A really good owner will be proud of their boat, will be renewing systems all the time, it may be old but it will be clean, everything will work, and will answer the phone when you call them after you buy it. Every boat I sold, the buyer became a friend. Brokers may try to prevent this, but in the price range your dealing with it may be direct deal anyway.
5. Trust but verify, get a survey.
6. Remember that buying is the cheap part. The expensive part is operating cost.
Personally I really like Sabre's, so if you can find a good one I'd definitely do it. For me, a quality built and maintained older boat is preferable to most of the new ones. YMMV.