Crap leather alone wont deter me from a saddle. Oil and elbow grease has about a 50% chance of turning cardboard into butter in the leather department, and I have lots of oil and a good bit of spare time.
If I were to buy a treeless, I would go for a well made model. I am not a tack snob in the least...I ride what fits, not what looks smexy. I always check out horsetackreview.com before I commit to buying anything outside of my knowledge. I would go for a popular, well made saddle like a Bob Marshall, not for quality of leather or how good it looks...but simply because a saddle of that caliber has been designed to do a specific job. Since it is marketed by Circle Y, you can bet that it has been tested to the limits and since it is in their lineup, it was found to be a good design.
You don't always get what you pay for. There are some GREAT deals out there. All you need to get them is patience and flexibility.