The National Trust says there would need to be huge public support and donations for it to have any chance of an appeal to "save Bantham".
Bantham beach and village is now for sale on the open market, with a guide price of over £11million.
David Ford National Trust General Manager for South Devon said: "The sale of Bantham Beach and village is extremely significant, it is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas in South Devon. This is also, of course, a very unsettling time for residents of the village.
"We are now actively discussing what role the Trust may play in helping to protect the area from significant development risk.
"The sale of Bantham beach and village at £11.5 million would be a substantial draw on any money we currently have set aside for caring for what we already own. Any possible purchase would require us to launch a significant fundraising appeal.
"As a charity, the National Trust is dependent on the support of our visitors, donors and of course our four million members. We sadly cannot save everything at risk and would need huge public support and donations to have any chance of an appeal to save Bantham being a success."
The National Trust’s first acquisition on the coast in South Devon was of 26 hectares of land on the mouth of the Salcombe Estuary, in 1928. With the help of massive public support and individual acquisitions, the Trust now manages and cares for over 40 miles and 3,000 hectares of the South Devon coast.
The Trust says that as Europe’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust receives many calls to step in and save heritage, coast and countryside under threat.
Adding that when an opportunity arises to acquire and protect a stretch of coastline that may be at risk from "unsympathetic or damaging development", they try to look at ways to play a role, however "this always has to be balanced against our existing commitments to protect other areas; so we need to ensure we are careful in our assessment of any future acquisition".