Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)


9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2021
Organization, Consolidation and Presentation of Financial Statements [Abstract]  
Organization. Meritage Homes is a leading designer and builder of single-family homes. We primarily build in historically high-growth regions of the United States and offer a variety of homes that are designed for the first-time and first move-up buyers. We have homebuilding operations in three regions: West, Central and East, which are comprised of nine states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. We also operate a financial services reporting segment. In this segment, we offer title and escrow, mortgage, and insurance services. Carefree Title Agency, Inc. ("Carefree Title"), our wholly-owned title company, provides title insurance and closing/settlement services to our homebuyers. Managing our own title operations allows us greater control over the entire escrow and closing cycles in addition to generating additional revenue. Meritage Homes Insurance Agency, Inc. (“Meritage Insurance"), our wholly-owned insurance broker, works in collaboration with insurance companies nationwide to offer homeowners insurance and other insurance products to our homebuyers. Our financial services operations also provide mortgage services to our homebuyers through an unconsolidated joint venture.
We commenced our homebuilding operations in 1985 through our predecessor company known as Monterey Homes. Meritage Homes Corporation was incorporated in the state of Maryland in 1988 under the name of Homeplex Mortgage Investments Corporation and merged with Monterey Homes in 1996, at which time our name was changed to Monterey Homes Corporation and later ultimately to Meritage Homes Corporation. Since that time, we have engaged in homebuilding and related activities and ceased to operate as a real estate investment trust. Meritage Homes Corporation operates as a holding company and has no independent assets or operations. Its homebuilding construction, development and sales activities are conducted through its subsidiaries. Our homebuilding activities are conducted under the name of Meritage Homes in each of our homebuilding markets. At September 30, 2021, we were actively selling homes in 236 communities, with base prices ranging from approximately $200,000 to $889,000.
Basis of Presentation. The accompanying unaudited consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”) for interim financial information and with the instructions to Form 10-Q and Article 10 of Regulation S-X. Accordingly, they do not include all of the information and footnotes required by GAAP for complete financial statements. These financial statements should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020. The unaudited consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Meritage Homes Corporation and those of our consolidated subsidiaries, partnerships and other entities in which we have a controlling financial interest, and of variable interest entities (see Note 3) in which we are deemed the primary beneficiary (collectively, “us”, “we”, “our” and “the Company”). Intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation. In the opinion of management, the accompanying unaudited consolidated financial statements include all normal and recurring adjustments that are considered necessary for the fair presentation of our results for the interim periods presented. Results for interim periods are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for the full fiscal year.
Cash and Cash Equivalents. Liquid investments with an initial maturity of three months or less are classified as cash equivalents. Amounts in transit from title companies or closing agents for home closings of approximately $94.3 million and $61.3 million are included in cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
Real Estate. Real estate is stated at cost unless the community or land is determined to be impaired, at which point the inventory is written down to fair value as required by Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 360-10, Property, Plant and Equipment (“ASC 360-10”). Inventory includes the costs of land acquisition, land development, home construction, capitalized interest, real estate taxes, and capitalized direct overhead costs incurred during development, less impairments, if any. Land and development costs are typically allocated and transferred to homes when home construction begins. Home construction costs are accumulated on a per-home basis, while selling and marketing costs are expensed as incurred. Cost of home closings includes the specific construction costs of the home and all related allocated land acquisition, land development and other common costs (both incurred and estimated to be incurred) that are allocated based upon the total number of homes expected to be closed in each community or phase. Any changes to the estimated total development costs of a community or phase are allocated to the remaining homes in that community or phase. When a home closes, we may have incurred costs for goods and services that have not yet been paid. An accrued liability to capture such obligations is recorded in connection with the home closing and charged directly to cost of sales.
We rely on certain estimates to determine our construction and land development costs. Construction and land costs are comprised of direct and allocated costs, including estimated future costs. In determining these costs, we compile project budgets that are based on a variety of assumptions, including future construction schedules and costs to be incurred. Actual results can differ from budgeted amounts for various reasons, including construction and weather delays, labor or material shortages, slower absorptions, increases in costs that have not yet been committed, changes in governmental requirements, or other unanticipated issues or delays encountered during construction and development and other factors beyond our control. To address uncertainty in these budgets, we assess, update and revise project budgets on a regular basis, utilizing the most current information available to estimate home construction and land development costs.
Typically, a community's life cycle ranges from three to five years, commencing with the acquisition of the land, continuing through the land development phase, if applicable, and concluding with the sale, construction and closing of the homes. Actual community lives will vary based on the size of the community, the orders absorption rate and whether the land purchased was raw, partially-developed or in finished status. Master-planned communities encompassing several phases and super-block land parcels may have significantly longer lives and projects involving smaller finished lot purchases may be significantly shorter.
All of our land inventory and related real estate assets are periodically reviewed for recoverability when certain criteria are met, but at least annually, as our inventory is considered “long-lived” in accordance with GAAP. If the undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated by an asset are lower than its carrying amount, impairment charges are recorded to write down the asset to its estimated fair value. Our determination of fair value is based on projections and estimates. Changes in these expectations may lead to a change in the outcome of our impairment analysis, and actual results may also differ from our assumptions. Our analysis is conducted if indication of a decline in value of our land and real estate assets exists. If an asset is deemed to be impaired, the impairment recognized is measured as the amount by which the asset's carrying amount exceeds its fair value. The impairment of a community is allocated to each lot on a straight-line basis.
Deposits. Deposits paid related to land option and purchase contracts are recorded and classified as Deposits on real estate under option or contract until the related land is purchased. Deposits are reclassified as a component of real estate inventory at the time the deposit is used to offset the acquisition price of the land based on the terms of the underlying agreements. To the extent they are non-refundable, deposits are charged to expense if the land acquisition is terminated or no longer considered probable. Since our acquisition contracts typically do not require specific performance, we do not consider such contracts to be contractual obligations to purchase the land and our total exposure under such contracts is limited to the loss of any nonrefundable deposits and any ancillary capitalized costs. Our Deposits on real estate under option or contract were $78.0 million and $59.5 million as of September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
Goodwill. In accordance with ASC 350, Intangibles, Goodwill and Other ("ASC 350"), we analyze goodwill on an annual basis (or whenever indication of impairment exists) through a qualitative assessment to determine whether it is necessary to perform a goodwill impairment test. ASC 350 states that an entity may assess qualitative factors to determine whether it is necessary to perform a goodwill impairment test. Such qualitative factors include: (1) macroeconomic conditions, such as a deterioration in general economic conditions, (2) industry and market considerations such as deterioration in the environment in which the entity operates, (3) cost factors such as increases in raw materials, labor costs, etc., and (4) overall financial performance such as negative or declining cash flows or a decline in actual or planned revenue or earnings. If the qualitative analysis determines that additional impairment testing is required, a two-step impairment test in accordance with ASC 350 would be initiated. We continually evaluate our qualitative inputs to assess whether events and circumstances have occurred that indicate the goodwill balance may not be recoverable. See Note 9 for additional information on our goodwill assets.
Leases. We lease certain office space and equipment for use in our operations. We assess each of these contracts to determine whether the arrangement contains a lease as defined by ASC 842, Leases ("ASC 842"). In order to meet the definition of a lease under ASC 842, the contractual arrangement must convey to us the right to control the use of an identifiable asset for a period of time in exchange for consideration. Leases that meet the criteria of ASC 842 are recorded on our unaudited consolidated balance sheets as right-of-use ("ROU") assets and lease liabilities. ROU assets are classified within Prepaids, other assets and goodwill on the accompanying unaudited consolidated balance sheets, while lease liabilities are classified within Accrued liabilities on the accompanying unaudited consolidated balance sheets.
The table below outlines our ROU assets and lease liabilities (in thousands):
As of
September 30, 2021 December 31, 2020
ROU assets $ 17,159  $ 21,624 
Lease liabilities 22,644  28,254 
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements - Joint Ventures. We may participate in land development joint ventures as a means of accessing larger parcels of land and lot positions, expanding our market opportunities, managing our risk profile, optimizing deal structure for the impacted parties and leveraging our capital base, although our participation in such ventures is currently limited. See Note 4 for additional discussion of our investments in unconsolidated entities.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements - Other. In the normal course of business, we may acquire lots from various development entities pursuant to option and purchase agreements. The purchase price generally approximates the market price at the date the contract is executed (with possible future escalators). See Note 3 for additional information on these off-balance sheet arrangements.
Surety Bonds and Letters of Credit. We provide surety bonds or letters of credit in support of our obligations relating to the development of our projects and other corporate purposes in lieu of cash deposits. The amount of these obligations outstanding at any time varies depending on the stage and level of our development activities. Bonds are generally not wholly released until all development activities under the bond are complete. In the event a bond or letter of credit is drawn upon, we would be obligated to reimburse the issuer for any amounts advanced under the bond or letter of credit. We believe it is unlikely that any significant amounts of these bonds or letters of credit will be drawn upon.
The table below outlines our surety bond and letter of credit obligations (in thousands):
As of
  September 30, 2021 December 31, 2020
  Outstanding Estimated work
remaining to
Outstanding Estimated work
remaining to
Sureties related to owned projects and lots under contract $ 597,379  $ 331,195  $ 478,788  $ 216,708 
Total Sureties $ 597,379  $ 331,195  $ 478,788  $ 216,708 
Letters of Credit (“LOCs”):
LOCs for land development 71,965  N/A 93,661  N/A
LOCs for general corporate operations 3,000  N/A 3,750  N/A
Total LOCs $ 74,965  N/A $ 97,411  N/A

Accrued Liabilities. Accrued liabilities at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020 consisted of the following (in thousands):
As of
  September 30, 2021 December 31, 2020
Accruals related to real estate development and construction activities $ 116,351  $ 92,701 
Payroll and other benefits 85,959  88,337 
Accrued interest 21,528  8,457 
Accrued taxes 26,526  34,373 
Warranty reserves 26,551  23,743 
Lease liabilities 22,644  28,254 
Other accruals 24,848  20,256 
Total $ 324,407  $ 296,121 

Warranty Reserves. We provide home purchasers with limited warranties against certain building defects and we have certain obligations related to those post-construction warranties for closed homes. The specific terms and conditions of these limited warranties vary by state, but overall the nature of the warranties include a complete workmanship and materials warranty for the first year after the close of the home, a major mechanical warranty for two years after the close of the home and a structural warranty that typically extends up to 10 years after the close of the home. With the assistance of an actuary, we have estimated the reserves for the structural warranty based on the number of homes still under warranty and our historical data and trends for our communities. We may use industry data with respect to similar product types and geographic areas in markets where our experience is incomplete to draw a meaningful conclusion. We regularly review our warranty reserves and
adjust them, as necessary, to reflect changes in trends as information becomes available. Based on such reviews of warranty costs incurred, we did not adjust the warranty reserve balance in the three or nine months ended September 30, 2021 or 2020. Included in the warranty reserve balances at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020 reflected in the table below are case-specific reserves for a warranty matter related to alleged stucco defects in certain homes we constructed between 2006 and 2017 and water drainage issues in a single community in Florida that we developed in 2016. See Note 15 for additional information regarding these case-specific reserves.
A summary of changes in our warranty reserves follows (in thousands):
  Three Months Ended September 30, Nine Months Ended September 30,
  2021 2020 2021 2020
Balance, beginning of period $ 25,065  $ 21,578  $ 23,743  $ 22,015 
Additions to reserve from new home deliveries 4,442  4,592  12,766  12,620 
Warranty claims (2,956) (2,911) (9,958) (11,376)
Adjustments to pre-existing reserves —  —  —  — 
Balance, end of period $ 26,551  $ 23,259  $ 26,551  $ 23,259 
Warranty reserves are included in Accrued liabilities on the accompanying unaudited consolidated balance sheets, and additions and adjustments to the reserves are included in Cost of home closings within the accompanying unaudited consolidated income statements. These reserves are intended to cover costs associated with our contractual and statutory warranty obligations, which include, among other items, claims involving defective workmanship and materials. We believe that our total reserves, coupled with our contractual relationships and rights with our trades and the insurance we and our trades maintain, are sufficient to cover our general warranty obligations. However, as unanticipated changes in legal, weather, environmental or other conditions could have an impact on our actual warranty costs, future costs could differ significantly from our estimates.
Revenue Recognition. In accordance with ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, we apply the following steps in determining the timing and amount of revenue to recognize: (1) identify the contract with our customer; (2) identify the performance obligation(s) in the contract; (3) determine the transaction price; (4) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, if applicable; and (5) recognize revenue when (or as) we satisfy the performance obligations. The performance obligations and subsequent revenue recognition for our three sources of revenue are outlined below:
Revenue from closings of residential real estate is recognized when closings have occurred, the risks and rewards of ownership are transferred to the buyer, and we have no continuing involvement with the property, which is generally upon the close of escrow. Revenue is reported net of any discounts and incentives.
Revenue from land sales is recognized when a significant down payment is received, title passes, and collectability of the receivable, if any, is reasonably assured, and we have no continuing involvement with the property, which is generally upon the close of escrow.
Revenue from financial services is recognized when closings have occurred and all financial services have been rendered, which is generally upon the close of escrow.
Home closing and land sale revenue expected to be recognized in any future year related to remaining performance obligations (if any) and the associated contract liabilities expected to be recognized as revenue, excluding revenue pertaining to contracts that have an original expected duration of one year or less, is not material. Revenue from financial services includes estimated future insurance policy renewal commissions as our performance obligations are satisfied upon issuance of the initial policy with a third party broker. The related contract assets for these estimated future renewal commissions are not material at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020. Our three sources of revenue are disaggregated by type in the accompanying unaudited consolidated income statements.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements.
In December 2019, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2019-12, Income Taxes (Topic 740): Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes ("ASU 2019-12"), which simplifies the accounting for income taxes by eliminating certain exceptions within ASC Topic 740, Income Taxes, and clarifying other areas of existing guidance. ASU 2019-12 was effective for us on January 1, 2021, and the adoption did not have a material impact on our financial statements or financial statement disclosures.