It really depends of your situation and the type of property you are looking at. Manville is a great town, and many parts of it are not lake front properties. That being said, you are the one that chooses what market is good for you. If you want to talk about it, please reach out to me.
As far as being a good investment, it is hard to answer - however I wouldn't listed to Jefferson. Manville gets a bad rap from outsiders, but all of my neighbors love it here. I moved my family here a few years ago and have been pleased by the small town feeling. Try the Weston sections - which have some great, safe, and affordable neighborhoods and are out of the flood zone.
They are in the process of revitalizing the downtown and dealing with the flooding issues - if they can figure those two things out, home prices will shoot up.
Don't be fooled by the big relatively new shopping plaza's on main street. Manville is still "a pit". By all means get a slice of pizza there or watch a movie at the big theatre but do yourself a favor and buy in a desirable community.
Hillsborough has a lot to offer but property taxes are very high. Also, it can be tough to commute to/from there due to 206 being about the only way in or out. Check out nearby Bridgewater.
Any older home might have asbestos. That's not necessarily such an issue, unless you would want to do renovations or construction that would require "disturbing" the material. If you leave asbestos alone it's great stuff once it's in place.
During hurricane floyd Manville made national news because of the flooding. (not all of Manville was effected though). Manville used to also be known for having more bars per capita than any other NJ town. (not sure if this is still the case, but I recall a bachelor party at Frank's chicken house) As far as asbestos, lead paint,eifis, mold,settling,septic systems and buried oil tanks to name a few with new construction most of these issues go away. With new construction come a number of other issues such as HOW,Association CCRs , punch lists,time frames and to a degree quality of construction even though the municipality will have to issue permits and do inspections. Glad to see you are doing your due diigence, suggest you check out the municipal websites and also the state sites for schools as well since these typically drive up prices and taxes.
I just put a call into the Construction/Building Department in Manville asking about your questions. The offices are closed right now, but as soon as I hear back from them, I will respond to your question.
I have lived in Hillsborough for over 12 years now and have lived in Somerset County all of my life, needless to say I know the area very well. Please contact me should you have any other questions or if you would like to receive daily e-mails of listings based on your criteria. They will also include the addresses of the properties. I will need your e-mail address in order to put you in the database to receive these e-mails.
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty
Web Site: http://melissajenkins.yourkwagent.com