On Buying Equipment...
Before purchasing equipment take a few lessons and develop a relationship with your instructor. Most instructors rely on repeat business and referrals so they are very determined to help you make the right decisions. Although shopping for the best price seems prudent, don't forget the value of maintaining the local instructor who helps safeguard the local sites and continuously upgrades techniques and knowledge. A temporary price savings for you may ultimately take away from your future in the sport. The paragliding industry is fragile due to land owner concerns over liability and the lack of funds to support growth. You can help strengthen this infrastructure through your local professional instructor.
This is one sport where you don't want to grow into your equipment. Sportier paragliders have marginally better performance and much less security. It will be at least 100 high flights before you will have the skill to draw out all the performance that a modern entry level glider is capable of producing.
Used paragliders can be great and they can be a nightmare. There are many things about a paraglider that require testing in order to determine their true air worthiness. Paragliders may be useable for as little as 300 UV exposed hours. At some point every paraglider is best retired. Some gliders come with lines which can shrink, stretch, or have broken cores. It can be difficult to tell if a paraglider has developed a porosity problem, fading isn't necessary for a glider to fail a porosity check.
New gliders are wonderful. If you make the right choices they can be easy to trust, resell, repair, and enjoy. The number one consideration is the reputation of the manufacturer. Avoid buying from a knock-off company that only steals existing designs and doesn't contribute any R&D for the sport -- you may save a little money now, but you're really hurting the sport. Avoid buying from a poorly established importer -- you'll have trouble with repairs, parts, information, and resale.
When budgeting for your glider be sure and consider a harness that you can keep for a long time. It's better to purchase a great harness at the beginning, even if you purchase an older used glider. You will need a reserve parachute to perform any high flights. A helmet designed for an open field of vision and good hearing is needed. Ankle protective boots are priority. Check with your instructor for his recommendations.