Thanks, Nigel (and Dana). That was my understanding as well, that places that are already wanting to rent are advertised privately (e.g. on Craigslist).
I was thinking, though, that some of the properties that have been listed on Trulia for 180+ days, for example, might be open to an offer to lease for a year or more, and was wondering how I could go about contacting Realtors, since each one will only know about their own listings that might be interested in leasing. Also, working without my own Realtor, I'm having a hard time learning about the different communities and schools.
I guess with any home that we'd essentially be taking off the market to lease, we'd need to give access for showings. I would expect that inconvenience to be reflected in the rental price, however.
In terms of our ideal place: A suburban development with a community pool and playground(s), $2500/m range sounds about right, ranch style house or master and 2 bedrooms on main (it would be great to have a bonus room upstairs or finished basement, but we'd want all the bedrooms on main because my child has a physical disability), newer construction or updated well, close to a Montessori school and/or great grade school important. Husband works in Ankeny, so easy access or nearby would be a plus. Nearby grocery store also a plus. Actually Prairie Trail in Ankeny sounds like it would have been perfect ... if it were actually finished!
Thanks for your help.