Starts fell 9.6% to 1.45 million annually as rising mortgage rates and prices kept buyers on the sidelines.

Monday's National Association of Home Builders confidence index showed a 6-point drop from June.

“Homebuilder confidence turned negative in August,” said Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at title insurance First American.

“Homebuilder confidence is at its lowest level since 2014, excepting the early months of the pandemic,” she said.

People built new homes or extended existing ones during the coronavirus epidemic because they couldn't go to work or eat out.

As the Fed tries to rein in inflation, mortgage rates have risen, making homes less affordable.

Analysts estimate July existing home sales to fall from June's pace.

Lisa Sturtevant, MLSBright's chief economist, said buyer activity has risen dramatically.