Record low temperatures have hit much of the nation, but that's not the only chill in the air.

January Housing Starts fell by 2 percent from December to an annual rate of 1.065 million units. The weaker than expected numbers were due in part to a big decline in single-family homes, as student debt, tight credit conditions and rising prices have kept some first-time homebuyers from entering the market.

Housing Starts peaked in early 2006 at an annual rate of 2.27 million units. They subsequently fell to 500,000 units in 2009, during the height of the recession. On the positive side, in this latest report Housing Starts are up 19 percent from this time a year ago.

Building Permits, a sign of future construction, also came in below expectations at 1.053 million in January, while the February National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index declined 2 points to 55. Readings above 50 mean that builders are positive about market conditions, so at least the decline didn't cross that important threshold.