He had closed on his house that week, confident his new home in Prince William County's partly developed Lake Ridge community would be surrounded by detached single-family houses and town houses.

But five days later he was attending a public hearing to protest a proposed 208-unit apartment complex to be placed on a lot near his house.

"They the developers knew this apartment was going in and they didn't tell me about it," said the distraught resident, who did not wish to be identified, at the public hearing.

Dozens of his neighbors were also there, complaining they too had thought that town houses would be built on the property, although the zoning allowed apartments.

"We realized then that prospective home buyers have to be better informed about what is going to happen to the property surrounding their new home," said neighbor Anne Van Anden last week.

"It is the consumer's right to know exactly what is planned for the community they are buying into," she said.

To that end, county residents, Realtors and elected officials have formed a committee to implement a new county program that will inform all prospective home buyers about their new communities.

Committee leaders say they will recommend the county create a fact sheet on each community, detailing zoning and future plans for undeveloped property. The fact sheet would be given by Realtors to all prospective home buyers, said committee members.

Van Anden said the fact sheet would inform Realtors as well as home buyers.

"Most home buyers are sophisticated enough to ask what is planned for that big empty lot next door," she said.

"But often the Realtor doesn't know the answer, or heard from the developer that it was going to be used for one thing, when in reality it will be used for another," she said. " The home buyer ends up with misleading or wrong information."

In the case of the Tall Oaks apartment complex in Lake Ridge, developers said at the public hearing that information on the apartment complex had been available to prospective home buyers.

But Van Anden said most Realtors were initially told town houses would be built on the lot and were not informed when the plans were changed to apartments.

Some Realtors may have known about the proposed apartment complex, she said, but continued to say town houses would be built on the lot to make the neighborhood seem more attractive to potential home buyers.

The committee will also recommend that fact sheets be signed by the Realtor who relays the information to the prospective home buyer.

"People will think twice about giving misleading or incomplete information if they have to be held accountable for it," said Van Anden, who is also a Realtor.

County Board of Supervisor Chairman Kathleen K. Seefeldt and State Del. David Brickley (D-Prince William) are also on the committee.

Seefeldt has said she favors the fact sheet idea and plans to have a draft of the proposal submitted to the board by November.

The committee still hasn't determined who should be responsible for composing the fact sheets, say committee members.

"The builders and Realtors are hesitant to take the responsibility because they fear being held liable for information they include that is false," said Van Anden.

She addeded, however, the committee will probably recommend that the county planning office compile the fact sheets and answer questions from prospective home buyers.

"They've been cooperative and willing," she said of the county planning department.

Fairfax County has compiled a booklet for prospective home buyers which states consumer rights, zoning laws and development plans for the entire county, say officials from the Northern Virginia Builders Association.

However, they said no city or county in Northern Virginia has a "fact sheet" program.

"As far as we know it is a unique idea," said Van Anden. "This may work and may not," she said. "The question is how to get the information into the consumer's hands. Our committee is just trying to figure out a good way to do it."

In the Sept. 10 Real Estate section Prince William County resident Anne Van Anden was quoted as saying some Realtors knowingly misled home buyers and that Realtors were unwilling to write up community fact sheets to be distributed to home buyers. Van Anden actually said developers, not Realtors.