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4 students build popular real estate iPhone app

From university competition to the Apple App Store

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NearBuy, a real estate search application for the iPhone, is one of the most popular free real estate apps. But it wasn't born in a Silicon Valley startup or as a brokerage investment. It began as a class assignment that led to a contest entry by a scrappy team of four college students.Their NearBuy app for searching for-sale properties has been downloaded about 100,000 times, and a separate search app they developed for rental properties has been downloaded about 75,000 times. One of the team members is now a programmer at Google.Back in September 2008, Anthony "Tony" Brown was an undergraduate at the University of Missouri looking for a place to rent the following year. When one of his classes challenged him to think of an idea for an iPhone app, he thought of the apps he was using at the time in his search. "I sat there thinking there had to be a better way than just looking at lists of things. Apps that I looked at were helpful, but not helpful enough," Brown...