When we first started the house buying process, my husband and I expected that the houses in our price range would need some TLC. We were surprised, however, at how much TLC some of the homes needed. It could have been extremely disheartening had we not been given some great advice--don't look at the house as it is, look at how it could be.
Bascially, the point was that every house has potential. Even if you don't have many home improvement skills or a lot of time and/or money, there are several simple things you can take to improve the home.
* Paint--Paint is inexpensive and an easy way to completely change the look of a room. You can easily paint several rooms in one weekend.
* Flooring--We were surprised at how inexpensive flooring could actually be. Like the look of hardwood floors? Look for a hardwood laminate--it's much cheaper and easy to install. Many large home improvement stores will also include labor in the price of the flooring if you don't want to tackle the project yourself (this is especially true with carpet installation).
* Clean--This sounds too simple, but the truth is that most homes just need a good scrubbing to make them livable and presentable.
* Landscaping--Don't forget the exterior! Plant some flowers and put down some mulch in the flower beds to create a clean look. Powerwash the siding to remove dirt and debris.
Don't be discouraged by a home that needs some work! With a little ambition, any home can go from "ugh" to "wow" with just a few improvements.