Dylan wrote: ↑
Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:42 pm
... do lutes exist in the $500 - $800 range that are worth buying?
No, they don't exist. With regards to used instruments, there aren't many used lutes on the market, and those that are available tend to be custom built and quite expensive (probably around $2500 and up, minimum). There are some brand new entry-level lutes that are in the $1500-2000 range (not custom built), and the better of those might be okay to get you started. Just do an online search for lutes for sale, and you'll find a few of the main options.
You also need to decide what kind of lute you want: Renaissance or Baroque (they are different instruments, and cannot play the same repertoire).
The Lute Society UK has a nice website with information that may be very helpful to you as far as learning some of the basics about lutes and buying a lute.
Best of luck!