I bought my first boat two years ago. 88 ProStar. I believe I got a good deal on the boat, however I've quickly realized that with two small kids (6 and 4), the closed bow is a bit of a limitation for us. Between that and the engine box, it's pretty cramped, even with just us 4. That being said, I paid cash, and no payments is nice. I'm hoping that over the next few years, I can redo the interior and make some well thought-out upgrades and sell it to help pay to upgrade to a Maristar 215 or an older X-boat. I figure if we can make the 88 work for us for 4-5 years, prices on more family-centered boats will have come down to something I can afford on a teacher's salary.
It blows my mind that new boats go for what they do, but I'll second what others have said and say 'cheers' to the used market.
I would certainly look seriously at any entry-level boats that MC decided to offer, branded as an MC or something else. Assuming the same quality is there, I think that would be a good seller. My 88 is about as simple as they come, it's just too small. Basic instrumentation in a larger hull, with well thought-out storage and seating would be ideal. Like others have mentioned, no need for CNC dash panels, heated seats, mega-watt stereos, power towers and computer-controlled digital gauges. Just give me the basics to get on the water, and let me shop the parts catalog at my leisure.