I fit this category. I acquired a Gaggia Baby recently which is barely entry level in the $500 - $1K range. If I had ~$1000 and it was a toss up between the Sylvia and VBM Levetta I would go the VBM (but at that price it would be the black rather than stainless steel model). I havent heard/read a bad word about the VBM but there are quite a few who upgrade their Sylvia (not from quality but the desire for something a bit better). The VBM sounds like it is closer to the pointy end of espresso machines than the Sylvia
Without trying to sound critical your question(s) sounds like a variation on the "what machine should I buy" question. I am keen to see the responses of those who have been before us. One thing being a member of CS has caused is machine envy as well as upgrade-itis.
- Why dont more people go for second-hand 1-groups? My guess is that there just arent that many available. They are built to last and not many see the need to upgrade
- Are they more expensive than I think? Hard to answer. How expensive do you think? The cost of a 2nd hand HX or DB is relative to its age and how well it has been maintained (I think)
- Are they simply hard to get? As per my first answer. *I dont see many come up but I am still a newbie both in CS membership and home barista terms
- Are their quirks and not-made-for-home-use isms too annoying? * IMO I wouldnt think so. You have to weight it against the need to improve upon your current machine and what you are looking for in your new one. Is there any perfect machine? (well the new Giotto sounds like its close) but it was explained to me that you need to *buy the machine that feels right to you.