When we first started house hunting in Indiana I was grateful that MLS listed the total square footage of homes. Back in Pittsburgh MLS didn't do this and we always found that a bit puzzling. In our (original) assessment it was easier to see if a house had the mass we needed for our family based upon this number.
Fast forward and I now realize why it's probably more advantageous to not have square footage on MLS. Having it seems to lessen the requirement for a complete set of room dimensions. Worse yet, there is no consistent way of doing square footage.
We've seen a lot of places that use the footprint of the house, then multiply it by the number of finished floors. We've seen places that appear to have legitimate footage values for livable space, but these are few and far between. We actually saw one place where the sellers had taken the foot print, added that same amount to the total for an unfinished half-basement and then added the same for the second floor that was smaller then the base and then they added the total footage of the garage to it for the size of the bonus room above the garage which turned out to have knee walls and be smaller then the garage. That house's total footage was probably half of what was listed and made for a horrible misrepresentation of the house. It was misleading and confusing. When livable space is actually the metric being used you often also have to wonder which rooms are being counted or not. Taking a list of houses and comparing them based upon square footage just does not give you an accurate representation of what space is available.
All in all there is just no better trade off then a decent set of room measurements for every livable space in the house.