Housing is crumbling to the extent that the homebuilders, perhaps in an effort to break things gently to us, are increasingly disclosing each quarter's results twice. On Tuesday, Pulte Homes (NYSE:PHM) became the latest builder to precede its regularly scheduled disclosure with preliminary results indicating a hefty loss for the second quarter.

According to Pulte management, the company expects to post a loss from continuing operations in the range of $2.00 to $2.10 per share when it formally releases results for its June quarter next week. The culprits for the company apparently will be land impairment charges amounting to a whopping $740 million to $770 million for the quarter, along with an approximately $40 million charge related to a restructuring that the company announced in May.

As with such other builders as Meritage (NYSE:MTH), D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI), and Ryland (NYSE:RYL), each of which has already warned of weak quarterly results, Pulte is trying through write-downs to catch up with a housing market that continues to deteriorate. It appears that in the latest quarter, the company sold about 20% fewer homes than a year ago and closed about 40% fewer units. It also appears that the exercise being performed by the builders is akin to attempting to catch a falling knife.  

On Wednesday, as if to substantiate the bleak picture being painted by the builders, the Census Bureau reported that new housing starts fell to an annual rate of 1.47 million units in June, 19.4% below the same month a year ago. The June starts level, though, was 2.3% above May's rate.

So, with homebuilders chopping up land inventories and house prices faster than a Kabuki chef, I wouldn't be surprised by a trickling out of more bad news by the group in advance of next week's quarterly releases by several biggies, including Centex (NYSE:CTX) and Beazer (NYSE:BZH). For that reason, and with concerns about a subprime mortgage contagion having resurfaced with a vengeance in the past few days, I'd recommend that Fools watch the builders from the sidelines until the sector's news begins to move in a more positive direction.

For related Foolishness:

Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your comments or questions. The Motley Fool has a sturdily constructed disclosure policy.