... 2. Buy used, but decent tractor. Maybe score a deal with a snow blower already attached... I saw an older Bolens, with snow blower, in great shape for $1200. From what I understand they were a pretty good machine. ...
This is probably the best bet, as you will get a lot more bang for your buck
Bolens made some of the best GTs out there. That's especially true for the 2-cylinder Large Frame models.
With 3 acres, I'm thinking that one of Large Frame models would be your best bet as they can have up to a 54" deck. The Tube Frames are nice as well, but the larges deck available for them is 42". Now, if you aren't concerned about getting it mowed fast, then one of the Tube Frames would work.
There will be some folks that will say that $1,200.00 for a LF Bolens is too much, but if it's an 1886, HT18, HT20, or HT23, and in good mechanical condition, not rusted and beat up, and has the deck and snowcaster, I'd say that it isn't too far out of line. It's always worth trying to haggle when buying a used tractor anyway
If it's one of the single cylinders, 1250, 1455, 1446, or 1477, then it would be worth lot less.
There are some other makes out there that will do a good job for you as well, so it would be good to keep an open mind.