U.S. home construction slipped 0.3% in March, as housing starts are running below last year’s pace in a sign that inventory could be a challenge for would-be buyers.

The Commerce Department says that housing starts last month were a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million. So far this year, starts have fallen 9.7%. Builders are pulling back from their construction of single-family houses and apartments.

Housing starts fell last month in the Northeast, Midwest and South, but they surged in the West. The construction data can be volatile, so the regional levels of homebuilding can change sharply on a monthly basis.

Permits, an indicator of future activity, fell 1.7% to an annual rate of 1.27 million.

Categories: Business