My advice is buy as high a quality as you can afford.
I was in a similar spot and ended up getting a 2007 Super Puma that had been a floor model (never in the water) for about $1000 off retail.
So deals are out there, but you will need to be take your time, I was looking for a boat for 4 months before I found something.
For that matter I would probably buy a Tributary before I bought a Saturn, just my opinion not based on anything except my comfort level with Aire style products.
I am with you though, I think buying a +5 year old boat is a crap shoot unless it is someone you know well and trust. And your Willowa story isn't unique, I have hear lots of the same about glued seams, I hear they are much improved these days, but it still sucks.