"The February starts figures are somewhat in line with flat builder expectations and serve as a cautionary note that affordability factors continue to affect the marketplace," said Greg Ugalde, chairman of NAHB.
Delayed by partial government shutdown, the reading of total housing starts in the United States in February fell 8.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.162 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department.
"Excessive regulations, a scarcity of buildable lots, persistent labor shortages and tariffs on lumber and other key building materials are having a negative effect on housing affordability," said Ugalde.
Meanwhile latest data showed that overall permits, an useful indicator to forecast future housing production, edged down 1.6 percent in February to 1.296 million units, signaling that homebuilders remained cautious in their outlook of housing market.
Specifically, permits for the building of single-family home remained steady at 821,000, while permits for multifamily home dropped 4.2 percent to 475,000.