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ORLANDO-In a deal estimated by local marketers and residential brokers to be in the $150-million range, Greater Homes Inc. of suburban Altamonte Springs is being acquired by Scottsdale, AZ-based Meritage Homes Corp. The transaction is slated to close within two weeks, sources in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com.

The parties did not disclose the contract price, although publicly traded Meritage will be reporting the transaction later this month to the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to sources familiar with similar deals.

The 40-year-old Greater Homes Inc., one of Central Florida’s largest builders of townhomes and single-family residences, will retain its name and also be identified in advertising as a Meritage Homes company. Greater Homes president Robert Mandell and the company’s management team will remain in place.

For publicly traded Meritage, which moved into the Central Florida residential development arena last year, the Greater Homes acquisition provides 3,500 ready-to-develop lots in Orange, Seminole, Polk, Osceola, Lake and Volusia counties, brokers familiar with the company’s inventory tell GlobeSt.com. At an estimated wholesale market value of at least $30,000 per lot, that inventory alone is valued at $105 million, according to land brokers who deal in lot sales daily in Central Florida.

Greater Homes anticipates building 600 homes valued at $160 million this year, company officials have previously stated. Meritage built 7,000 residences with sales of $2.04 billion in 1004.

The Greater Homes-Meritage transaction follows a local, regional and national trend of home-building company consolidations. In two earlier deals this year, Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. of Red Bank, NJ bought Cambridge Homes Inc. of Altamonte Springs and Technical Olympic USA of Hollywood, FL purchased locally based Transeastern Homes Inc. In 2002, KB Homes Inc. of Los Angeles acquired American Heritage Homes Inc. of Kissimmee.

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