After searching the forums and consulting friends who do landscaping for a living, I have narrowed my choices down to a scag 48" belt drive for 4000 or the exmark metro 48" for 3500. These machines are very similar and both have great reviews for what I'm looking to use them for (residential use for myself and grandparents, and two other yards to help pay for the mower) Is the Scag worth the few hundred more? A buddy of mine still mows with a 1991 scag belt drive and he says its still running strong. The metro comes with the Kawasaki 15 hp and the scag with a 14.5 Kaw hp.
Thanks again everyone, I am still researching but hope to purchase by next week.