Nationwide housing starts dropped 3.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.099 million units in January.
Newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department shows that overall permit issuance edged down 0.2%.
"January's production numbers are in line with our recent reading and show that builders are being cautious as they face some market uncertainties and supply side constraints," said Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, a Washington-based trade association.
"Despite the modest dip in starts in January, we expect to see ongoing, gradual growth in housing production in 2016," NAHB chief economist David Crowe said. "An improving economy, solid job creation and pent-up demand for housing should keep the market moving forward."
Both single- and multi-family production dropped in January. Single-family housing starts fell 3.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 731,000 units while multifamily starts declined 3.7% to 368,000 units.
Combined single- and multi-family starts fell in all four regions in January, with the West, South, Northeast and Midwest posting respective losses of 0.4%, 2.9%, 3.7% and 12.8%. Multi-family permits rose 2.1% to a rate of 482,000 while single-family permits fell 1.6% to 720,000.
Regionally, the Midwest, West and South registered respective permit gains of 26.5%, 24.5% and 0.3%. Permits fell in the Northeast by 55.4%