It seems like trad gear is gold to climbers and once they have it, they hang on to it.
Exactly! And there's a good reason for that - it tends to last a lifetime if well looked after and slings/wires are replaced when necessary.
I am in the same boat - saving up for trad gear, just find a place to get a good price. I compared 3 prices, a local climbing shop, Mountain Mailorder and the climbing gym I go to. For a fairly small cam it was literally R800 vs R780 vs R600 (my climbing gym being the cheapest). Any way, you don't want to buy a piece of second hand gear on which you will be placing your life when you don't know why they sold it.