Thanks for sharing your experience. It definitely helps. I didn’t know about the Reverb website. Will definitely check it out.
I went to a guitar repair shop to have my guitar setup and the guy told me not to buy new. He said electric guitars are like cars, they depreciate in value as soon as you leave the store and that I’ll get better bang for my buck. Like you, I don’t like buying used especially when I don’t know what to look for as far as damages etc.
From my research so far I’m leaning towards a new MIM Fender Stratocaster SSS.