U.S. homebuilder sentiment was steady at lower levels in March as a harsh economic environment kept potential buyers on the sidelines, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday.

The economy continues to be the main drag on home sales activity right now, in terms of consumer confidence across most of the country, said NAHB chief economist David Crowe.

Home builders report that tight credit conditions are posing a further hurdle, especially for potential first-time buyers, while potential trade-up buyers are finding it very tough to sell their existing homes so they can make a move.

The NAHB said its index of current single-family home sales was unchanged at 7 in March. Its gauge of prospective buyer traffic slipped two points to 9, while its measure of sales expectations for the next six months was steady at 15.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)