Following KB Home's (NYSE:KBH) recent success with its 'Open Series' line of smaller, easily customized homes, Meritage Homes Corp. (NYSE:MTH) has unveiled the 'Simply Smart' home line.

Scottsdale-based Meritage on Wednesday announced that the new homes will feature open floor plans with nine-foot ceilings, a wide range of standard features with options including varying front elevations, extra bedrooms or bonus rooms, and choices of flooring, fixtures and colors. All the homes will be Energy Star qualified, with materials, construction practices and appliances that combine to make these homes 20-30% more energy-efficient than homes built to the current International Residential Code.

Meritage is rolling the homes out in submarkets where price is driving sales activity. The homes are designed to compete with rentals and older existing homes on the basis of monthly payments. According to Meritage, the efficiency of the designs and construction process enables the company to complete the buying cycle quickly, giving buyers the opportunity to own a new home in a time frame closer to that of the resale market.

For example, Meritage is currently selling three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bath homes with 2,001 square feet for approximately $868 per month in a master-planned lakeside community south of Phoenix. For a monthly payment of $1,272, it is offering a four-bedroom home with a large owner's suite and oversized three-car garage in a Meritage community surrounding a 10-acre lake outside of Orlando. In Riverside County, California, Meritage is selling three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath homes with mountain views for as low as $1,589 per month.