"There's a big difference between a 'handyman's special' and a 'money pit.'"
Well-located homes in need of tender loving care can be a terrific value. If you're interested in building "sweat equity" fixing up a home, hire a professional inspector to ensure the home won't cost you a fortune to refurbish.
A worthy handyman's special will be structurally sound with all major systems in good working order--heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, roof. Those are the most costly items to repair or replace. Your time and effort will be better spent painting, making minor repairs, adding or replacing fixtures, sprucing up the landscaping, and accomplishing other low-cost fix-ups.