BUSINESS AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2018
|Organization, Consolidation and Presentation of Financial Statements [Abstract]|
|BUSINESS AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES||
BUSINESS AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
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 with a focus on 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 wholly-owned title company, Carefree Title Agency, Inc. ("Carefree Title"). Carefree Title's core business includes title insurance and closing/settlement services we offer to our homebuyers. Through our successors, we commenced our homebuilding operations in 1985. Meritage Homes Corporation was incorporated in 1988 in the state of Maryland.
Our homebuilding and marketing activities are conducted under the name of Meritage Homes in each of our homebuilding markets. In limited cases, we also offer luxury homes in some markets under the name of Monterey Homes. At December 31, 2018, we were actively selling homes in 272 communities, with base prices ranging from approximately $182,000 to $1,286,000.
Basis of Presentation. The accompanying consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”) and 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.
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 for home closings of approximately $76.1 million and $107.1 million are included in cash and cash equivalents at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Real Estate. Real estate is stated at cost unless the asset 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, capitalized direct overhead costs incurred during development and home construction that benefit the entire community, less impairments, if any. Land and development costs are typically allocated and transferred to homes under construction when construction begins. Home construction costs are accumulated on a per-home basis, while selling 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 the 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 delays, labor or material shortages, increases in costs that have not yet been committed, changes in governmental requirements, or other unanticipated issues 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 construction and land 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 sales 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 reviewed for recoverability, as our inventory is considered “long-lived” in accordance with GAAP. Impairment charges are recorded to write down an asset to its estimated fair value if the undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated by the asset are lower than its carrying amount. 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 exist. 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 lots 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 non-refundable deposits and any ancillary capitalized costs. Our deposits were $51.4 million and $59.9 million as of December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively.
Goodwill. In accordance with ASC 350, Intangibles, Goodwill and Other ("ASC 350"), we analyze goodwill on an annual basis (or whenever indicators of impairment exist) 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, the two-step impairment testing 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 related to goodwill.
Property and Equipment, net. Property and equipment, net consists of computer and office equipment, model home furnishings and capitalized sales office costs. Depreciation is generally calculated using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets, which range from three to seven years. Depreciation expense was $16.3 million, $15.9 million, and $14.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively. Maintenance and repair costs are expensed as incurred. At December 31, 2018 and 2017, property and equipment, net consisted of the following (in thousands):
Deferred Costs. At December 31, 2018 and 2017, deferred costs representing debt issuance costs related to our Credit Facility totaled approximately $3.6 million and $3.0 million, net of accumulated amortization of approximately $7.6 million and $6.5 million respectively, and are included on our consolidated balance sheets within Prepaids, other assets and goodwill. The costs are primarily amortized to interest expense using the straight line method which approximates the effective interest method. See Note 6 for additional information related to net debt issuance costs associated with our senior notes.
Investments in Unconsolidated Entities. We use the equity method of accounting for investments in unconsolidated entities over which we exercise significant influence but do not have a controlling interest. Under the equity method, our share of the unconsolidated entities’ earnings or loss is included in Earnings from other unconsolidated entities, net, or Earnings from financial services unconsolidated entities and other, net, in our income statements. We use the cost method of accounting for investments in unconsolidated entities over which we do not have significant influence, if any. We track cumulative earnings and distributions from each of our ventures. For cash flow classification, to the extent distributions do not exceed cumulative earnings, we designate such distributions as return on capital. Distributions in excess of cumulative earnings are treated as return of capital. We evaluate our investments in unconsolidated entities for impairment when events that trigger an evaluation of recoverability present themselves. See Note 4 for additional information related to investments in unconsolidated entities.
Accrued Liabilities. Accrued liabilities at December 31, 2018 and 2017 consisted of the following (in thousands):
Revenue Recognition. In accordance with ASU 2014-09 Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606), 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 obligation. The performance obligation and subsequent revenue recognition for our three sources of revenue are outlined below:
Home sale contract assets consist of cash from home closings that are in transit from title companies, which are considered cash in transit and are classified as cash on our accompanying consolidated balance sheet. See "Cash and Cash Equivalents" in this Note 1 for further information. Contract liabilities include home sale deposit liabilities related to sold but unclosed homes, and are classified as Home sale deposits in our accompanying consolidated balance sheet. Substantially all of our home sales are scheduled to close and be recorded as revenue within one year from the date of receiving a customer deposit. Revenue expected to be recognized in any future year related to remaining performance obligations (if any) and 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. Our three sources of revenue are disaggregated by type in the accompanying consolidated income statements.
Cost of Home Closings. Cost of home closings includes direct home construction costs, closing costs, land acquisition and development costs, development period interest and common costs, and impairments, if any. Direct construction costs are accumulated during the period of construction and charged to cost of closings under specific identification methods, as are closing costs. Estimates of costs incurred or to be incurred but not paid are accrued and expensed at the time of closing. Land development, acquisition and common costs are allocated to each lot based on the number of lots remaining to close.
Income Taxes. We account for income taxes using the asset and liability method, which requires that deferred tax assets and liabilities be recognized based on future tax consequences of both temporary differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply in the years in which the temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in earnings in the period when the changes are enacted.
We record deferred tax assets to the extent we believe these assets will more likely than not be realized. In making such determination, we consider all available objectively verifiable positive and negative evidence, including scheduled reversals of deferred tax liabilities, whether we are in a cumulative loss position, projected future taxable income, tax planning strategies and recent financial operations. If we determine that we will not be able to realize our deferred tax assets in the future, we will record a valuation allowance, which increases the provision for income taxes.
We recognize interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits within the Provision for income taxes line in the accompanying consolidated income statement. Accrued interest and penalties are included within the Accrued liabilities line in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets. See Note 11 for additional information related to income taxes.
Advertising Costs. We expense advertising costs as they are incurred. Advertising expense was approximately $15.4 million, $15.8 million and $15.0 million in fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Earnings Per Share. We compute basic earnings per share by dividing net earnings by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the period. Diluted earnings per share gives effect to the potential dilution that could occur if securities or contracts to issue common stock that are dilutive were exercised or converted into common stock or resulted in the issuance of common stock that then shared in our earnings. In periods of net losses, no dilution is computed. See Note 8 for additional information related to earnings per share.
Stock-Based Compensation. We account for stock-based compensation in accordance with ASC 718-10, Compensation—Stock Compensation ("ASC 718"). This guidance requires us to estimate forfeitures in calculating the expense related to stock-based compensation. Awards with either a graded or cliff vesting are expensed on a straight-line basis over the life of the award. See Note 10 for additional information on stock-based compensation.
401(k) Retirement Plan. We have a 401(k) plan for all full-time Meritage employees. We match portions of employees’ voluntary contributions, and contributed to the plan approximately $3.7 million, $2.9 million and $2.7 million for the years ended 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
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 and leveraging our capital base. 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 purchase and option agreements. The purchase price generally approximates the market price at the date the contract is executed (with possible future escalators) and may have staggered purchase schedules. See Note 3 for additional information on off-balance sheet arrangements.
Surety Bonds and Letters of Credit. We provide letters of credit in support of our obligations relating to the development of our projects and other corporate purposes. Surety bonds are generally posted in lieu of letters of credit or 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):
Warranty Reserves. We provide home purchasers with limited warranties against certain building defects and 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 typically during the first one to two years after the close of the home and a structural warranty that typically extends up to 10 years subsequent to the close of the home. With the assistance of an actuary, we have estimated these reserves for the structural warranty based on the number of homes still under warranty and historical data and trends for our communities. We also 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 twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and decreased it by $1.6 million net in the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, which decreased our cost of sales. Included in the warranty reserve balances at December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017 reflected in the table below are case-specific reserves for two warranty matters related to (1) alleged stucco defects in Florida; and (2) a foundation design matter affecting a single community in Texas.
A summary of changes in our warranty reserves follows (in thousands):
Warranty reserves are included in Accrued liabilities on the accompanying consolidated balance sheets, and additions and adjustments to the reserves are included in Cost of home closings within the accompanying 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 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.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements.
In August 2018, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2018-15, Intangibles - Goodwill and Other - Internal-Use Software (Subtopic 350-40): Customer's Accounting for Implementation Costs Incurred in a Cloud Computing Arrangement that is a Service Contract ("ASU 2018-15"), which aligns the requirements for capitalizing implementation costs incurred in a hosting arrangement that is a service contract with the requirements for capitalizing implementation costs incurred to develop or obtain internal-use software. ASU 2018-15 is effective for us beginning January 1, 2020. ASU 2018-15 is required to be applied either retrospectively or prospectively to all implementation costs incurred after the date of adoption. We are currently evaluating the impact adopting this guidance will have on our financial statements.
In August 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-13, Fair Value Measurement (Topic 820): Disclosure Framework - Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Fair Value Measurement ("ASU 2018-13"), which modifies the disclosure requirements of fair value measurements. ASU 2018-13 is effective for us beginning January 1, 2020. Certain disclosures are required to be applied on a retrospective basis and others on a prospective basis. We are currently evaluating the impact adopting this guidance will have on our financial statement disclosures.
In January 2017, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2017-04, Intangibles - Goodwill and Other (Topic 350), Simplifying the Accounting for Goodwill Impairment ("ASU 2017-04"), which simplifies the accounting for goodwill impairments by eliminating the second step of the goodwill impairment test. Under the new guidance, an impairment loss will reflect the amount by which the carrying amount of a reporting unit exceeds its fair value, not to exceed the carrying amount of goodwill. ASU 2017-04 is effective for us beginning January 1, 2020, with early adoption permitted. We elected to early adopt ASU 2017-04 effective January 1, 2018 and it did not have a material impact on our financial statements.
In August 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-15, Statement of Cash Flows (Topic 230): Classification of Certain Cash Receipts and Cash Payments, ("ASU 2016-15"). ASU 2016-15 adds and clarifies guidance on the classification of certain cash receipts and payments in the statement of cash flows, reducing the existing diversity in practice that has resulted from the lack of consistent principles on this topic. ASU 2016-15 was effective for us beginning January 1, 2018. A retrospective transition method was required on adoption and it did not have a material impact on our statement of cash flows.
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) ("ASU 2016-02"), which amends the existing accounting standards for lease accounting, including requiring lessees to recognize most leases on their balance sheets. ASU 2016-02 will be effective for us beginning January 1, 2019. ASU 2016-02 requires a modified retrospective transition approach for all leases existing at, or entered into after, the date of initial application, with an option to use certain transition relief. In July 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-11, Leases (Topic 842): Targeted Improvements ("ASU 2018-11"), which provides entities with an additional transition method that allows entities to initially apply the new leases standard at the adoption date and recognize a cumulative-effect adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings while continuing to present all prior periods under the previous lease accounting guidance. Also in July 2018, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2018-10, Codification Improvements to Topic 842, Leases (“ASU 2018-10”), which provides clarification about the proper implementation of several topics in ASU 2016-02. We have identified our population of leases and related systems and internal control considerations associated with the adoption of ASU 2018-11. Our consolidated balance sheets will be impacted by the recording of a right of use asset and associated lease liability for virtually all of our current operating leases, which are primarily comprised of office space leases. The liability will be equal to the present value of the remaining lease payments while the right-of-use asset will be based on the liability, subject to adjustment, such as for initial direct costs. The right of use asset and lease liability are expected to have a gross up impact on our consolidated balance sheet of approximately $20 million, however, we do not expect a material impact on our consolidated income statements.
In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606), (“ASU 2014-09”). ASU 2014-09 requires entities to recognize revenue that depicts the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. We adopted ASU 2014-09 on January 1, 2018 using a modified retrospective method.
The adoption of ASU 2014-09 did not have an impact on the amount or timing of our homebuilding revenues, although forfeited customer deposits, typically an immaterial amount on an annual basis, that were previously included in Other income, net are reported as Home closing revenue in our consolidated income statements effective January 1, 2018. Additionally, as a result of the adoption of ASU 2014-09, there was an immaterial adjustment to our opening balance of Retained earnings with respect to the timing of expenses resulting from ceasing the capitalization of certain selling costs we incur as part of the selling process. The majority of these previously capitalized costs were allocated to either Real estate or Property and equipment, net on our opening 2018 consolidated balance sheet, with an immaterial amount recognized as a cumulative effect adjustment to the opening balance of Retained earnings. See "Property and Equipment, net" and "Revenue Recognition" in this Note 1 for further information.
As of and for the year ended December 31, 2018 the adoption of ASU 2014-09 did not have a material impact on our balance sheet, net earnings, stockholders' equity or our statement of cash flows. The comparative information has not been restated and continues to be reported under the accounting standards in effect for those periods.
The entire disclosure for the general note to the financial statements for the reporting entity which may include, descriptions of the basis of presentation, business description, significant accounting policies, consolidations, reclassifications, new pronouncements not yet adopted and changes in accounting principles.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef