Try not to step in it today, housing bubble watchers. Once again, the real-estate cheerleaders and compliant "journalists" out there will be trying to put lipstick on the pig with the bogus headline of the day. It will read "Housing Rebounds," "Home Starts Up," or some other nonsense.

Don't fall for it.

The "improvement," as usual, is made by comparisons to the prior month -- in this case, February to January. That's a bad way to do comparisons, as it doesn't account for seasonality. Worse yet, the reported 9% "increase" over January is subject to an error of plus or minus 10.2%, which means there's no way to judge whether it's an increase or a decrease.

What's completely unambiguous is the giant drop from last year's February numbers. Housing starts in February 2007 were 28.5% worse than in February 2006, with a margin of error of 6.2% in either direction. Worst-case scenario, housing was down 34.7% -- at best, it was down only 22.3%. (Full details here.)

That's why homebuilders like Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV) and D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) have publicly predicted a 2007 that would -- to quote Horton -- "suck." It's also why I expect mortgage brokers like Countrywide Financial (NYSE:CFC), Impac Mortgage Holdings (NYSE:IMH), and Accredited Home Lenders (NASDAQ:LEND) to have lousy years, even if they avoid the New Century credit crunch.

While this crowd, along with the National Association of Realtors, does its best to convince you that now is the "time to buy," I suggest you wait for the credit crunch to really play out, and the massive speculators' inventory overhang to hit the market. When ARM-driven foreclosures really hit their stride and desperate home "investors" are selling their McMansions at 50 cents on the original buck, that will be the time to buy.

Comments? Bring them here.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.