Marie Noelle Fequiere
So let me share some piece of wisdom with all the newbies who could be reading this: BEWARE OF CHEAP SWORDS!
This is very good advice. Not only do you risk poor quality, but you may be risking your safety as well. Unless you got an extremely good deal, a $70 sword is meant to be only decorative in nature (despite want advertisments and sellers may lead you to believe) and using it as a martial arts practice weapon can be a real danger to yourself and others. I think generally the cheapest sword considered acceptable for martial arts practice is Paul Chen's practical katana, and those are significantly more than $70.
As far as Bugei's offerings are concerned they are all excellent. I have been very happy with my Bugei sword. As production swords they are manufactured by Paul Chen in China however they are made to Bugei's specific design and specs. And once they arrive at Bugei they go through a rigorous quality inspection before being shipped out to customers, so you can rest assured that you are receiving a quality product. If there does happen to be a problem with your sword also Bugei's customer service is great and they will take care of you. Personally I think Bugei's production swords are the next best thing to custom swords (which obviously will run you a lot more money). As far as length of the blade and tsuka is concerned that's something up to you and your teacher.